(Yes, of course there are spoilers! See you later if you haven’t caught up already.)
In 2013, Jenji Cohen introduced us to women from diverse cultural and social backgrounds in a prison dramedy titled Orange is the New Black. The character portrayal is stunning; the camera pans in and out of the lives of these inmates before they serve their term at a minimum security female federal prison. We see every character undergo transformation, after all isn’t everything got to do with time? There are layers of themes. We see discrimination (last season focused on Black Lives Matter), betrayal, violence and sexual and mental exploitation, among other things. Some survive, while others die (we’ll miss you Poussey). But besides all this, the show also focuses on the economics in prison. Therefore, there’s plenty of business lessons you and I can take from these inmates.
Know how to appease your colleagues
Piper Chapman unknowingly insults the food being served in front of Red who runs the kitchen. Obviously then she literally starves her by not giving her any food. However, to win back Red’s trust in her and knowing Red has an excruciating back pain, Chapman prepares a pain-relieving concoction. So, eventually it’s up to you how you make the most of an opportune moment and even your score with your colleague who you may have had a disagreement with. In a professional setup, you never know when you may need someone’s help/advice.
Related: How to Influence People at Workplace
Count on your potential
Noone knew tha Chapman, a straight-faced yuppie would become a crook and start a ‘dirty underwear’ business within the prison precincts. This was, however, possible only because of her persuasive skills and presence of mind. She and her so called ‘employees’ thought it was obnoxious, but ultimately saw a potential to earn some extra money (even though it was meagre) and tagged along. Chapman even convinced her brother, Cal, to manage distribution from outside for the business meant good loads of money. Should you find yourself in a fix and short of ideas, think again. In the sleepy corner of your mind may be an idea waiting for fruition.
Do your best despite having limited resources
Sophia wears waterproof shower shoes thanks to duct tape; Morello uses instant coffee as eyeshadow; Taystee does a favor for Chapman and gets her luscious locks in return, which she uses as hair extensions; tampons are used as hair curlers and to hide cigarettes; lighter is made of foil and battery and maxi pads are used as surgical masks; and Chang skips mealtime opting only for peas that she mixes with Fritos to make pastries. In the end, how innovative your approach is towards your business will decide how far you’ll go in the race. Think different.
Manage your anger pangs
They say that the best remedy for anger is delaying it, which is what Chapman forgets doing. She flips out at Mr. Healy, not realizing that it is he who will determine how long she stays in the solitary. She realizes the consequences only after the arrow had been released from the bow. Similarly, if you have anger issues, accept it rather than blasting off and regretting later. If there’s a discord, step out for a bit and reflect upon it.
Nurture talent and be there for your team
In season 2, we see Vee as an anti-thesis of someone who cares little about talent and instead starts playing prison inmates against each other. In contrast, there’s Red who loves her girls and goes to any length to protect them and is ready to even take a fall for the mistakes they make. When Red sees Nicky going back to drugs, she tries to talk her off it and succeeds too.
Did you notice one thing? Your safety net is you and you alone. Rise and shine.
The author of the article is Head – Project Management at Work Better Training. Work Better Training is one of India’s fastest growing Executive Education and Training firm. The views expressed here are personal.
*This article was first published on Times Ascent.